image courtesy of news.com.au

Last week Danni Minogue gave birth to her first child.  Her planned home-birth went awry and Ms Minogue was transferred to a hospital to deliver.  The end result, happy healthy mother and child.

But the controversy sparked up again the safety of home-births.  See this article in The Punch.

From what I have read this was a planned home-birth with a midwife not a free-birth where the mother labours on her own with no midwife assistance.

Personally I think the debate over home-birth versus hospital birth is futile.  For every study you find stating that home-births are as safe as hospital births, you will find another that states it is riskier.

Danni Minogue opted for a home-birth but when it was decided that she would be better off in a hospital, she went.  I’m not entirely sure what the controversy is.  I would imagine that whatever complications she encountered wasn’t due to geography.

She did the right thing.  She put the safety of herself and her baby first and got herself to hospital for medical attention.  She should not be condemned for having a home-birth but applauded that she didn’t leave it too late to get to hospital.

But some think otherwise

And just to be frank, I find it really annoying that home-birthing seems to be another one of those either/or scenarios; you are either for home-birthing or you are against it. I’m not entirely sure the situation is that simple, nor black and white.

Women are going to want to birth at home. It’s not for everyone, it’s not for me but I don’t feel like I have the right to judge. I’m not a policy maker, but if I was I suppose it would force me to choose a side.

However, I visited the Joyous Birth website and these women and nothing short of passionate. But they use very strong emotive language and after a while I felt like I had to defend my choice to birth in a hospital under the care of an obstetrician.

The insinuation that because I chose a hospital birth I had checked my brain at the door, and the caregivers couldn’t give a hoot about me or my baby, is plain offensive.

If you are a woman who wants the choice to have a home-birth that’s fine, but please do not attack those mother’s that do not wish the same.

You might find that even though women choose hospital births, they may champion your cause; but not if you condemn them for their choices because they differ to yours.

What I have found on both sides of the argument are sweeping generalizations with very little evidence to back it up. All obstetricians are more interested in their golf days and home-birthers are selfish mothers.

I am fairly confident neither is true.

What is apparent is the gap between a home birth (with a backup hospital booking) and a straight-from-the-word-go hospital birth is so wide that if home births go wrong, perhaps mothers feel they can’t seek medical help because they will be given a hard time.

Is it possible that some women don’t seek medical help sooner because of fear of how they will be received in hospital? As that selfish mother who wanted a home-birth? That’s a huge shame if it true because that in turn makes hospitals complicit to complications in birth.

Or do home-birth mothers want to give birth at home no matter what?

An article featured on the smh.com.au website stating that Doctors, fearing they will be sued, are refusing to prescribe drugs or order tests for women who want to give birth at home, and this is forcing mothers to give birth in hospitals or putting lives at risk, midwives say.

Obstetrician’s being accused of being too worried about being sued so they favour caesarian sections? Well who is to blame for that?

Hospital or home births, things can go tragically wrong. The fact that litigation is a talking point simply shows me that it has become mainstream to point the finger and insist someone ‘pay’ for a less than favourable outcome.

We all agree that a mother needs to feel comfortable and safe in her surroundings to assist the labour and birthing process – home or hospital. And as my obstetrician once said to me, a well informed mother rarely makes a bad decision.

Below are some other news articles.

Home birth program that delivers
Government backs down on homebirth legislation
Home birth triples neo-natal death risk: study
Midwives get costly reprieve for home births
Law to stop midwives working outside hospitals
A home birth is not a safe birth
Home births a lonelier option due to midwife insurance risk


  • At 2010.07.16 16:08, Alex said:

    i agree its very much a personal choice thing and mothers who decide to “have a go” at either side really have nothing better to do and are quite dare i say “closed minded” for someone “God forbid” having a difference of opinion on how they wish to bring their child into the world.
    I do however agree about the insurance thing,after Ms Minogues “rush to the hospial” if something had gone terribly wrong and she was under a doc care unfortunately the society we live in would be jumping on their soap boxes saying his/her license be revocked. Thus why many Doc don’t give their support so freely whn couples make the decision have a home birth.
    I myself would never have a home birth just for the sheer fact if something goes wrong i want it fixed right there or at least i want someone to give me answers straight away.If something ever happend i would never forgive myself that those “10minutes to the hospital could have been the decider”. Even though in reality that would b how long it would take to get “things started” in a hospital setting.
    In closing she did the right thing when things went south she went and got additional help,and for all the ppl critising her she did what every mother should respect she put the needs of her baby above “what she wanted” and now she has a beautiful baby to show for it.Good on u Dani you made a mum decision and the kid wasn’t even out in the world yet 🙂

    • At 2010.07.16 16:12, Karen said:

      Well said Maria, I too am a hosbital birth kinda mum, but generally aplaud those who choose to do a homebirth.(but agree the feeling is not mutual)…I guess its another one of the cloth vs disposable, and breastfeed vs bottle issues….no-one wants to feel like they are doing the wrong thing, when really all us mums are just trying to get through each day… we certainly dont need our choices dissected and scrutinised by strangers who often may be in vastly different circumstances..

      • At 2010.07.25 18:38, Maria said:

        Thanks Karen and thanks for the comment.

        We are just trying to get through the day with what works for us.

        Love & stuff
        Mrs M

      • At 2010.07.17 00:17, Robbie said:

        This subject will keep going around in circles until it’s taken up and addressed at AMA and government levels. Women will have a “real choice when we have proper training and accountability programs for midwives.
        In other countries where midwives are well trained and seen to be the health professionals that they are, they complement obstetricians and neither feels threatened by the other. The national health system also has cover for midwife treatment.
        Then there will be an opportunity to have a real choice. One that will not make women feel that they will be scrutinized if the outcome differs from the original plan.
        The reality is that babies are born safely both at home and in hospital, and births can and do go wrong even in a hospital. There is also, to my knowledge, no medicare rebate for homebirths.
        So the question is one of do we in Australia REALLY have a choice ?

        • At 2010.07.25 18:46, Maria said:

          I think you hit the nail on the head re women feeling scrutinized if the outcome differs from the original birth plan.

          The reality our choices are limited. As far as I know, if I want my OB I can’t have a water birth because where he delivers, they don’t have the facilities.

          And I happen to stumble onto my OB because of word of mouth 😉

          The fact that women have to pretty much scan down a list of names find out which OB is available and even then you don’t have the chance to suss out if you feel comfortable with this particular OB. I think the numbers of OB’s are dwindling which is why it is making it so difficult to ‘choose’ one.

          But speaking to my OB he says it is extremely difficult when faced with a mother has come in at the 11th hour and he is in charge of saving her and her baby and every second counts. There has got to be a better way.

        • At 2010.07.18 10:37, Enzo said:

          I feel out of place commenting as someone not in possession of the appropriate childbearing ‘equipment’, but I’m always all for choice, so why shouldn’t women be able to choose?

          But as you pointed out, policy is always black and white, us or them.

          • At 2010.07.18 11:02, Danny said:

            Interesting read M!
            I completely agree that people should be able to make their own informed choices and not be judged. For some reason, though, apparently someone has to be “wrong”
            As far as I can tell I will always choose to birth in hospital but there are other reasons for that decision than it being ‘safer’, as I dont necessarily think that is the case (unfortunately babies die in hospital all the time) but I am all for people who choose to home birth. Good for them I say! Every home birth I have read about sounds lovely 🙂 Why can we not be mutually supportive??? Just because someone’s opinion disagrees with our own doesnt make it ‘wrong’ necessarily… Maybe just wrong for us?
            As for litigation… People need to realise that sometimes things just go wrong and they arent anyone’s fault per se. In the blame game everyone loses out in the end!!

            • At 2010.07.28 10:45, Brenda Freeman said:

              While my own birthing experiences were over 20 years ago, and they were all hospital births, the environment my children were born into was amazing. The midwives, my Doctor and of course my husband were supportive, and allowed me to have the birth that I wanted for my children with minimal intervention.
              However, as a nurse, I felt comforted knowing that if an unforeseen occurrence happened, then the best medical care was right there.
              I have known mothers who have chosen home births, and loved it. Each person must make an informed decision. There is no right or wrong – it is what you as the mother feels comfortable and at ease with.

              • At 2010.08.03 14:42, Maria said:

                Hi Brenda,

                I too had all 4 of my children in hospital and felt comforted by the fact that if something were to go wrong, help was 30 seconds away.

                But for my personal birth experience I did try to do it all without using drugs or interventions which seems to be the ethos of home birthing.

                I do have to say though it did take me 4 births to really understand my body and to recognise particular sensations and feelings.

                Thanks for the visit and the comment.

                Love & stuff
                Mrs M

              • At 2010.07.30 23:54, Veronica said:

                I agree with Brenda my four were born in Hospital, and just as well, I had a very healthy pregnancy, never felt better in my life and then I went into labour and the problems started.

                It happened with all four and each was a different problem. But if I was not in hospital both myself and my baby would have died.

                I am not saying no to home births but I would like to suggest a good backup is in place just in case.

                • At 2010.08.03 14:45, Maria said:

                  Hi Veronica,

                  You know I don’t think I have come across one person who has had a “textbook” pregnancy and/or a “textbook” labour.

                  At some point, “something” became a concern even if it didn’t eventuate into anything.

                  So glad to hear that everything turned out well in the end for you.

                  Love & stuff
                  Mrs M

                • At 2011.08.06 14:44, Melanie Strang said:

                  Hi Mrs M
                  Thanks for pointing out- its not for anyone to judge-there IS no right and wrong!

                  • At 2011.08.06 15:02, Maria said:

                    Hi Melanie,

                    I haven’t read this post in a while so I just re-read it. And I do believe in the ‘live and let live’ philosophy. I know I would hate anybody telling me that what I was doing was wrong so who the hell am I to tell anyone else what to do.

                    Mother’s are fiercely protective, I refuse to believe that a mother doesn’t have her baby’s best interest at heart.

                    Thanks so much for the visit and comment.

                    Love & stuff
                    Mrs M

                  (Required, will not be published)